In August 2018, North Range Behavioral Health launched Wings, a residential and outpatient treatment program for women struggling with substance use disorders. Wings is designed for expectant mothers and mothers with children under the age of 5.
Kathryn Warner, Wings Program Director, says she repeats the oft-quoted flight attendants’ orders: “In case of an emergency, put your own mask on first.” While working with mothers who battle addiction and mental health issues, treatment is like the oxygen in the drop-down mask. It is lifesaving.
Wings’ 24/7 residential setting employs a whole-family approach, to address both the children’s and adults’ needs. Family Connects, a comprehensive early childhood suite of programs, is located in the same building as Wings, making two-generational treatment possible.
And the best and worst thing about it? “The noise level with the children,” Warner says, then laughs. “It’s a great thing because we know the kids are safe and the moms are healing. When the moms start to heal, the children start to heal.”
Wings moms learn:
- How they’ve been affected by both substance use and mental health disorders.
- About trauma, post-traumatic stress and how to cope without using drugs.
- How to be a parent.
- To plan and cook nutritious meals, even on a strained budget.
- How the female experience and gender-specific topics apply to them.
- To be self-sufficient, instead of depending on drugs, family members, social safety nets or someone who might rescue them and their children.
Says Warner, “We enhance what they already now.”
When moms complete the program, they can continue to work with North Range in Intensive Outpatient and parenting services and receive help meeting vocational and/or educational goals. This ongoing support ensures families stay on course to success.
One of the most compelling rationales for an integrated two-generation approach to service delivery is the multiplier effects for parents and children. Spurred on by their children’s success, parents may pursue more education and obtain a better job. Further improvement in children’s development might follow, for example, in school success and social competence. Ultimately, the benefits of these multiplier effects would accrue not only to the parent or child participating in an intervention, but to the whole family.